We chat with hyperlocal content marketing expert Megan Hannay about how multi-site and national brands can compete with local businesses by creating and scaling authentic local content, local marketing and smashing local SEO.
5 Questions You Can Answer After Listening To This Episode On Hyperlocal Content Marketing With Megan Hannay:
1. Why is hyperlocal content marketing and SEO so important?
2. Where can a multi-site business source hyperlocal content?
3. What would Megan Hannay do if she was left alone in a room with nothing but her imagination?
4. Is it possible to scale hyperlocal content?
5. Who has the upper hand at a local level: big brands or stand-alone stores?
Dave first connected with Megan Hannay after reading a blog article she wrote that featured some great ideas on hyperlocal content marketing and SEO at scale. Being a hyperlocal content marketing and SEO junkie, Dave was keen to get her on the show and talk all things local.
Megan is the co-founder and CEO of ZipSprout, a hyperlocal marketing matchmaker service in the US that helps brands connect with their audience through local SEO opportunities and marketing campaigns. She also has a tonne of experience in the realms of social media marketing, local SEO and content marketing and hosts her own local marketing podcast The Zip.
INTERLUDE! If you’ve just discovered Redback Solutions, below is a short video about who we are and what we do. If you just came for the article, you can simply skip past the video and keep reading 🙂
3 Reasons why Hyperlocal Content Marketing and SEO are so Important
1. The “I-want-to-go” moment
Creating local content is like creating an online dating profile. You describe in detail your many attractive qualities, explain why you’d make the perfect other half (trying hard not to sound arrogant) then send it out into world. The tricky part is making sure you’re there, in the right place at the right time, when your ideal partner is ready to settle down with someone just like you.
Due the the explosive growth of mobile search, businesses are having to adapt their marketing to cater to consumers who are making purchase decisions based on a quick flick through their phone. These “I-want-to-go” moments are a perfect opportunity for marketers to reach customers who are searching for something in their local area.
2. Hyperlocal SEO = winning on SERPs
For many local businesses, ranking well on the right SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is a crucial element for lead generation. Although sometimes Google’s algorithms might seem more like enigmas, there are a few basic things that every business can do to please the beast:
- Optimise every inch of your Google My Business page
- Create localised content for the areas your business serves
- Create unique individual landing pages
- Include as much relevant information as possible through structured data markup
3. Giving national brands a local voice
Forgetting SEO, SERPs and structured data for a moment, let’s remember that our consumers are just like us—they’re human. And as humans, consumers respond much better to content they can relate with; content that is personalised and localised, as opposed to the same generic messages being spouted across the country or the globe.
Where to find Authentic, Hyperlocal Content at Scale
So how is it possible to find or create great content that connects with local audiences, to speak the local language, when you’re not a local? This has always been a challenge for businesses who have multiple locations, stores, offices, clinics or service areas to look after.
Matching businesses with local creatives and finding opportunities for local sponsorship is Megan’s specialty. Here are her favourite places to source content and find marketing opportunities on a hyperlocal scale:
Sponsor local organisations
Sponsoring local events, clubs, schools, not-for-profits, etc. is a great way to reach new audiences and foster a positive reputation within the community.
Enlist local journalists, copywriters and creatives
These writers and creatives not only have the skills to create well-made content, but they have the local knowledge to back it up. Look to Google or sites like UpWork and AirTasker for local creatives to write sponsored articles, blog posts or contribute to your website.
Partner with local influencers
Influencers can be an amazing way to connect with local audiences and gain credibility, depending on your chosen demographic.
Displaying positive reviews on your website works twofold. First, it lets your audience know how amazing you are through the positive experiences of their peers. Second, by including the location of each reviewer (eg. George, Newcastle), you’re giving the search engine gods a few more of those lovely keywords that they like.
We talked about empowering employees to create great localised content in our previous episode with Liz Gilliam on Local Franchise Marketing. Your employees can be invaluable assets when it comes to producing authentic content, because they know the business and their local area better than any ghost writer could ever hope to.
Platforms like Instagram are fantastic places to find user-generated content (UGC). Encourage followers to snap pics while enjoying the fruits of your business and create a hashtag to find them all in one place. One of Dave’s favourite guilty pleasures, and a perfect example of well-done UGC is Doughheads doughnuts in his hometown of Newcastle.
Is it Possible to Scale Local Social Media?
Not every business sells Insta-worthy, drool-worthy doughnuts. So leaving aside UGC for a moment, how can a business with multiple locations create localised social media content at scale?
Get to know the locals
It’s true that ‘scaling local’ sounds like an impossible oxymoron, but it doesn’t have to be. As Megan puts it:
“Scaling local means developing targeted resources that resonate in each market.”
Before attempting local social media, it’s important to understand how your brand is perceived in the area you’re targeting. This takes more than sales and demographics research. Take the time to actually ask a few members of your target audience what they think of your business, or if they even know you exist.
Once you know where you stand, it will be easier to create relevant content that resonates with the wants and needs of a particular local market.
Can you imagine setting up 50 local branch Facebook pages in one day, then telling your Branch Managers to just “give it a go”? No, doesn’t sound very clever does it? The very raw and real nature of social media means that things rarely go as planned. It’s better to start any local social media strategy with just a couple of stores, smoothing out any bumps before going big.
Create a playbook
Whether you’re recruiting local staff members or hiring local social media marketing talent, establishing a playbook (a concrete set of brand guidelines) is absolutely essential. Hold accountable the representatives of your business, ensuring they speak in the voice of the brand and adhere to the brand’s values in all their interactions with customers on social media.
Now that you’ve smoothed out any initial issues, found out what works and what doesn’t, and established a playbook, it’s time to scale—slowly. Remember the hiccups you had with the first couple of locations? They’ll happen with the others too, only this time you’ll be more prepared.
Who has the Upper Hand at a Local Level?
Is it the national or multi-site brand with more resources, or is it the small local business with knowledge of the area?
One very important thing to remember if you’re a business with multiple locations, is to treat each landing page like it’s the first impression your potential customers will have of your business—because often it is. Many businesses put a lot of effort into their home page and maybe a couple of their service pages, but leave each location page empty except for an address and contact details.
That measly little location page is competing with entire websites from your smaller competitors, dedicated and optimised to their one single location. If bigger brands don’t pay enough attention at a local scale, they will be outdone by the little guy in the SERPs.
Megan mentions the WholeFoods supermarket chain as a fantastic example of hyper-localised content. Whether you’re in Tribeca New York or Santa Fe New Mexico, each location’s landing page includes information on the area, local events, products, team members and more.
While single-location businesses have the local know-how, enterprises have the resources, and both are just as capable of creating effective, authentic, hyper-localised marketing content.
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